Sunday, October 29, 2017

Izamal

One of my favourite cities in the Yucatan is Izamal. We visited Izamal when we were on vacation in the Yucatan 6 years ago, but yesterday we decided to head out that way again, since it is about 35km from our home town. It was really nice to reflect on how much has happened since our first visit and how different it is to walk around now that we understand some Spanish and don't feel so foreign anymore.

One thing that is very distinctive in Izamal is that all the buildings in the centre part of town are painted a distinctive yellow, or as I am sure to be corrected, ochre. It is beautiful and one of the cleanest cities around. The streets are original stone and is just a lovely place to visit.


Horse drawn carriages for tours of the city.

A street view behind the cathedral.

Back wall of the church.


We bought Herman a nice new hat and a bracelet to start off his birthday celebrations and I bought my first pair of high heels in Mexico. I am happy to know that I wear a size 5 here (same as in SA). We had breakfast at the same restaurant we visited when we were here last "El Toro". Definitely a great restaurant experience. While we were there one of the patrons ordered guacamole and the waitress walked to the market to purchase a fresh avocado.
Herman's new hat.

In El Toro, ordering breakfast.

El Toro is one of the small buildings behind the church.


The city is rich with history and used to lots of tourists which is evident in the many English descriptions on menus to accommodate them. It was also visited by Pope John Paul II in 1993 and is a destination for many Catholics on pilgrimage. The city also provides tourist "police" who you can approach for directions and who are fluent in English. There was a market in the square and it was refreshing that the prices were not as high as they tend to be in Mérida.

Izamal's market is very good and we will be back for sure! With the current celebrations there was a midway in town and the cathedral was as impressive as ever.
The flag in the centre of the town square.
The church was built on top of the original Mayan temple, which was the order of the day during the Spaniard's invasion of Mexico.

The church built on the Mayan ruins is the main attraction of the town.

The church is wheelchair accessible.

On the one side where the market is, are all the taxis to other parts in the Yucatan.

The grounds of the church can accommodate large crowds.

The square in front of the church.

A statue of Pope John Paul II commemorating his visit of 1993.

The inside of the church.

The statue of the Virgin Mary was donated by the Pope and has a silver crown.

The festivities will start after 6pm and will become a bustling hive activities.


Front entrance to the church's square.

A group of school kids were visiting the church.

Herman took this picture from the top of the church grounds of the ruins in the distance. The ruins are a big part of the city's attractions. There are many ruins like this one in the small towns in the Yucatan that can be seen from the road and can be visited for free. Even a site like Chichen Itza is only partially excavated and tourists only see some of what have been excavated. The government just cannot afford the archaeological digs required to uncover every Mayan historical site.





It was a change from the village life in Seyé, but I still prefer the simplicity of my small town after witnessing both good and bad changes brought by tourism.

Right now the people in our area are celebrating Hanal Pixan, which is the Mayan celebration of the dead. Families build altars in honour of the deceased where they place the favourite food, drink and other items to remember them and celebrate their lives. Traditional food that is part of the celebration are pan de los muertos (bread of the dead) a really yummy sweet bread, and pib, which is a very labour intensive chicken pie.
Pan de los muertos.

Pib (pie on the left)